An Old-Fashioned Girl

Another solid tween book from Alcott, liberally sprinkling in the ideas of independent woman alongside the virtuous deeds of respecting elders, helping each other, doing charity work, not minding poverty. I do wish she didn’t lean so hard on the happily-ever-after wrap up always ending in marriage…. it wasn’t the path she chose for her own life so why perpetuate the myth for other ladies?

Polly is a simple, pleasant, respectful girl from the country who stays for a month at the rich Boston home of her friend Fanny Shaw, becoming a bosom member of the family by palling around with brother Tom, sister Maud, the grandmother, and meeting Mr. Shaw on his way home from work each night. Mrs. Shaw is a weak woman who suffers from nerves and has little say in the story. We skip ahead six years and Polly returns to town to set up shop as a music teacher, living in a rented room and sending her brother Will to college. There are some tidy scenes of the cozy house Polly makes in her small room, serving tea to Will each Sunday and Maud tagging along. The usual crossed-wire romances occur, where Polly loves Tom who’s engaged to Trixie, and Syndey loves Polly but Fanny loves Sydney. All’s well that ends well, although Alcott does save Maud from the maudlin ending by NOT marrying her off to Will.

Strongest chapter is the one where Polly introduces Fanny to her friends, women artists and writers, a sculptor, an engraver, an author. They picnic on shared goodies on a makeshift table in their studio and ogle the statue of Ideal Woman that Becky is shaping.

I should really go ahead and re-read Little Women since I seem to be making my way through her collected works.